First Amendment News

Court rules block public access to legal proceedings

Senate conservatives are joining Democratic colleagues in pushing the U.S. Supreme Court to televise oral arguments. The Judiciary Committee approved a bill requiring live broadcasts. The Court presently releases same-day audio for major cases. (Fox News, July 13, 2021, by Chad Pergram) A North Caroline reporter was sentenced to five days in jail and reprimanded for recording a murder trial. Mathew Sasser and his editor thought that it was only impermissible to use a cell

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Times opinion writer describes historic racism of white press

Times editorial board member Brent Staples, The New York Times, July 10, 2021, details the complicity of the white press in the demonizing and murder of Blacks in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The racism persisted into the 1960s and 70s with the Los Angeles Times and Kansas City Star recognizing their hostility toward and neglect of their communities of color. The 1968 Kerner Commission blamed the white press for not covering Black

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Transparency for big political donors imperiled by Supreme Court decision

Bob Egelko in the San Francisco Chronicle, July 11, 2021, observes that the July 1 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the California donor disclose law is unconstitutional paves the way for courts to restrict campaign finance laws that call for the revelation of the identities of political donors. Then Justice Anthony Kennedy noted in the Citizens United ruling of 2010 that the electorate would still know who gave what to campaigns in upholding disclosure requirements.

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Trump sues social media on First Amendment grounds

Former President Donald Trump is suing social media companies alleging they violated his First Amendment rights. The suits want the court to order the companies to allow Trump to resume his use of their platforms and to declare Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act unconstitutional. While legal experts see little chance that the suit will succeed, it is expected that Trump will use it successfully to rally his core and raise money. (CNBC, July

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Two Supreme Court justices want fresh look at Times v. Sullivan

Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch recently expressed his support for Justice Clarence Thomas for reining in the landmark 1964 ruling New York Times v. Sullivan that protects the news media in libel suits brought by public officials. Under the standard set by the ruling, it must be established that the alleged libel was made with “actual malice” or made with knowledge of the falsity of the statements. Gorsuch argued that with the proliferation of news

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